China coal futures fall for a fourth day as government intervenes

Thermal coal futures were down more than 150% year-to-date

  
A man stands at a construction site near a coal-fired power plant in Shanghai, China, May 28, 2021.

A man stands at a construction site near a coal-fired power plant in Shanghai, China, May 28, 2021.

REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING: China's thermal coal futures fell for a fourth day on Monday, extending losses since last week when they cooled from record highs after Beijing said it would intervene to tame prices.

The most-active thermal coal futures on Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange, for delivery in January, tumbled more than 8%, but recovered some losses to be down 5.2% at 1,335 yuan ($209) per tonne by 0329 GMT. The contract was down more than 32% since Tuesday's record of 1,982 yuan per tonne.

Thermal coal futures were down more than 150% year-to-date.

China's state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), on Monday urged coal firms to "strictly" perform their contractual obligations and asked firms to strengthen the credit supervision of medium- and long-term contracts.

The NDRC said it will urge upstream and downstream coal companies to sign mid- and long-term contracts for power and coal and "give full play to the medium and long-term coal contracts to stabilize the market" in yet another measure by Beijing to boost supplies and cool prices. 

China, the world's top coal miner and consumer, must consider food and energy security when curbing emissions, its cabinet said on Sunday, ahead of a new round of global climate talks in Glasgow starting on Oct 31.

Climate watchers were hoping the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases could be persuaded to start cutting coal consumption earlier than its current target of 2026, but severe energy shortages have put the government under pressure to step up production of the fuel. 

China is pushing miners to ramp up coal production and is increasing imports so that power stations can rebuild stockpiles for the winter heating season, but analysts say shortages are likely to persist for at least another few months. 

The NDRC has taken a slew of measure and has said it was studying ways to guide prices back to a "reasonable range" and to crack down on "excessive profits" at coal firms. 

China's securities regulator has asked futures exchanges to raise fees, restrict trading quotas and crack down on speculation in response to high coal prices. 

From Oct. 15, the government is allowing coal-fired power plants to pass on generation costs to some end-users via market-driven electricity prices. 

($1 = 0.1566 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Shivani Singh; editing by Jane Wardell and Christian Schmollinger) ((ShivaniSingh2@thomsonreuters.com; +86 10 5669 2115;))


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